San Luis Obispo BLM protestors speak out on misleading police reports

On Tuesday July 21, 2020, Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets in San Luis Obispo California—literally. They marched along Santa Rosa and then walked onto Highway 101, where traffic was blocked for nearly an hour.

During the event, there were a handful of incidents where cars charged at protestors, sometimes hitting and pushing them out of the way. As the protest wound down, the San Luis Obispo Police Department arrested only two demonstrators, and one specifically they claimed had instigated a riot.

What followed was a clear example of exaggeration, omission, and dishonesty from both the SLOPD and the local California Highway Patrol (CHP) branch. Law enforcement put out skewed and misleading statements, which were uncritically shared by local corporate TV news outlets. They said that protestors attacked the cars, labeling the demonstrators engaged in civil disobedience as “rioters,” though video evidence clearly shows cars aggressively driving into people.

Thankfully, but days later, local print media helped correct the record, and called out law enforcement for this dishonesty. In this installment of Political Payne, I spoke with two protestors who were there that day and quite close to the car incident on Highway 101. We discuss how the protests moved forward, police tactics in surveilling and later arresting Tianna Arata, and the overall tone local police and conservative residents have taken against Black Lives Matter protests.

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The following are links to articles relied on for this video.

Uncritical reporting by local television news:

SLO Tribune opinion piece:

Bill Barr defends Portland response:

KCBX Public Radio reports on SLO PD’s dishonesty:

SLO Tribune interviews with protestors conflict with San Luis Obispo Police Department account: 


Published by Joe Payne

Joe Payne is a lifelong resident of the Santa Maria Valley who teaches music, performs, and tunes pianos ( He's also a seasoned journalist who shares his own reporting and opinion on matters local and national (

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